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Fewer people visit city park amid continued closure of ‘much-missed’ café

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 August 2020

The cafe building at Waterloo Park, pictured when it was Cafe Park Britannia. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The cafe building at Waterloo Park, pictured when it was Cafe Park Britannia. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The continued closure of a “much-missed” city park café has seen fewer people visit the area, a volunteer has said, as hopes remain high it will soon reopen.

The former Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe former Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Last August, it was feared the Café Park Britannia at Waterloo Park in Norwich would shut permanently after its owners, Britannia Enterprises, went into liquidation.

But the cafe was saved following a deal between the social enterprise, which also ran Café Britannia near Norwich Prison, and Norwich City Council.

Families enjoying the weather in Waterloo Park, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood Families enjoying the weather in Waterloo Park, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Five months later, however, the café announced it had been forced to close due to an administrative issue.

At the time, manager Simon Stokes confirmed the council was providing support and talks were ongoing, but the café has remained closed since then.

Waterloo Park after lock down restrictions altered. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANWaterloo Park after lock down restrictions altered. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

And with families and people flocking to parks during the pandemic, there has been a renewed interest in the future of the café.

Margaret Bevan, a volunteer at Friends of Waterloo Park, which was formed in 2018 to enhance and promote the park, said that parks had been a “life-saver” for people since the outbreak of coronavirus.

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She said: “Lots more people have been using parks and they have become important, particularly for those who don’t have a garden and for families with children so they can let off some steam.

“Not having a café, though, means that Waterloo Park is drawing fewer people in as there isn’t anywhere to have tea and cake and use the toilet.”

Ms Bevan said Friends Of Waterloo Park were often contacted by people asking if they knew when the café was set to open its doors.

She added: “I think it’s very much missed, particularly as a hub of the community. Lots of people would meet there and going to the park was more of an event. It also helped people who were lonely and isolated.

“It would be lovely to think it could come back into use and be a community café again. I’d ideally like for it to reopen today but, more realistically, for it to reopen by next spring.”

It is understood that potential tenants looked round the site before lockdown, but Norwich City Council could not confirm whether this was the case.

A spokesperson for the council also said they “had no further update at this time on the café”.


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